Coba Hohka was an older man, maybe fifty or so, with long white hair pulled into a ponytail. Eyeglasses were perched on his thick nose, and he was shorter than Myn, about the height of any full-blooded goblin. But his skin was a similar olive drab hue, and his stocky build left no doubt that one of his parents had been a dwarf.

“Those boys have been making trouble on this road since the siege began,” Coba said, leading Myn through his shop. Aisles and shelves overflowed with books and scrolls, spilling onto the floor and leaving only the narrowest of passages. The whole place smelled like moldy paper and ancient, crackling glue. “It’s what happens in cases like this, if you ever care to research it. Thee confined turn on their own, just as they did in the Siege of Crannequin when the dwarves were restricted to the Undercity.”

“You don’t say.” Myn took the proffered seat–stool, really–once Coba had swept a few manuscripts off of it. He took up a perch at a high writer’s desk.

“So, who are you that has come to my door with the blood of my neighborhood’s petty annoyances on her hands?” said Coba. “A mule like myself, clearly.”

“Very observant,” said Myn. “Those eyeglasses must really help.”

“Bah, I knew you were a mule before I even laid eyes on you. They way you announced yourself, with all that false bravado? That could have been me, thirty years ago. ‘Coba the Mule, scribe for hire, the bookiest man in Gaiza, son of Maala the Bronze and Twyxim Lockwork.’ Sound familiar?”

“False?” Myn said. “I believe every word.”

Coba laughed. “Bah,” he said again. “You don’t believe a word of it, you’ve just convinced yourself that you do. We mules are like that. Unless you favor one of your parents enough to pass for them, or something else, we’ve got to loudly declare how worthwhile we are to ourselves if we’re to believe it.”

“I’m guessing you were about as welcome in the Dwarf Quarter as I am in the Goblin Quarter,” said Myn.

“Ha! That’s putting it mildly. I’m about as welcome in the Goblin Quarter as you are. Luckily for me, the written word does not discriminate. Now, what was it you wanted?”

“Information,” Myn said. “Lots of it.”

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